Three days of unforgettable experience

They came from all walks of life, from many parts of Fiji. For three days, they mixed and mingled and had lots of fun. Women of all races proudly displayed
10 Aug 2014 08:54

They came from all walks of life, from many parts of Fiji. For three days, they mixed and mingled and had lots of fun. Women of all races proudly displayed their handicrafts for exhibition and for sale.
The first National Women’s Expo which ended at the Vodafone Arena on Friday was a huge success.
This is why:
Some women like Seini Qativi from Dalomo Village, Bua, set foot in Suva for the first time as part of a whole new experience that will enhance their knowledge and understanding that there is a bigger world out there outside the perimeter of their villages and settlements. Their exposure to a meeting of this magnitude opens up their mind to innovative ideas, motivational talks and positive practices that will greatly help them improve their standard of living.
Participants were privileged to listen to two high profile inspirational motivational speakers author Bambi Shen and professional sportsman Gene Foster. Bambi has a very interesting background.
Manouchehr (Manny) Pedram,
Ph.D.Professor of Philosophy and History of Education, Retired Founder of Global and Muliticultural Education (GAME), who wrote the Forward of her book, The Uncrushable Rose, says this is a moving and heart-rending memoir—the story of a girl born in 1939 to a Chinese diplomat in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam. “Bambi Shen offers vivid memories of the concentration camps she lived in during the five-year Japanese occupation of then Indochina, in World Wall II,” he said.
“Her memoir also paints a clear picture of the mother/daughter conflict predictable in a culturally patriarchal society and male-dominated family system.
“It is a story of challenge and survival, and of the struggle to be freed from the limitations of centuries-old tradition and cultural boundaries.
“In the way she lives her daily life, Bambi demonstrates the interconnectedness of humankind and the opportunity for each of us to grow, to serve society, and to participate in the healing of our world. This is exemplified in the fact that, despite extreme differences with her mother, she spent years caring for her until her death. “Bambi’s memoir demonstrates that even under the most difficult circumstances anyone can find countless ways to engage in the world to be a beneficial presence. “Bambi is a true model to give us lessons in action, involvement, and support for the creation of a peaceful global community.”
Bambi is an inspiration to many of our women in rural areas who face challenges daily. Their experiences pales into insignificance in comparison to what Bambi went through. Her message of hope and perseverance should lift the spirit of those marooned on a morass of despondency.
Many of our women will relate to Bambi’s reference on mother/daughter conflict in a culturally patriarchal society and male-dominated family system. Fijian and Pacific families have been deeply rooted in similar cultural construct. During the Expo, the women would have learned that the wheels of change towards a new Fiji are turning. The Constitution guarantees equal citizenry. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says it means we are all equal, men, women, youth and children. It means further that we treat each other equally. While there is an unwritten law and practice in some cultures that men are the head of the home, it does not mean they have the right to physically and psychologically abuse their spouses and children. In fact, this Constitution protects the welfare and wellbeing of women and children. Dr Jiko Luveni, the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, has led the crusade against the use of violence against women and children.
This Expo demonstrates that the cultural barriers that exist between ethnic groups, especially among women, are gradually being broken down. It was emotionally and spiritually uplifting to see iTaukei and Indo-Fijian women jumping on the stage together to perform a dance or sing a song like one big happy family. The mix is significant because in the long run it will promote goodwill and tolerance and help remove racial and religious prejudices.
When was the last time you saw or heard Indo-Fijian and iTaukei women sleeping side by side comfortably in a community hall for three nights? Pretty rare. But it happened last week. The women overcame their cultural sensitivities in a show of unity. Some cultures do not encourage their women to go out, especially after dark, to participate in such activities for safety fear. To be away from home for three days and three nights is a major breakthrough. It was quite amazing that they were able to put aside their cultural, religious and dietary differences to stay together for three nights. They have blown away a myth that cultures cannot mix.
Marama ni Yavusa (Female tribal chiefs)
The consideration to provide the Marama ni Yavusa training on leadership is a great innovation. Many iTaukei chiefs, both male and female, do not get any formal training on leadership. Their knowledge is based on observation and practice of rituals and obligations. Modern training helps chiefs to be more inclusive, tolerant and forward-looking.
The Expo has set a benchmark for the future. It has exposed women to limitless possibilities in the marketing of their products. Exports in the next step and it can be done with support from all the stakeholders. Dr Luveni seems excited. If she returns to Government after the general election, she is expected to continue the programme.
She has every reason to be happy with the Expo. There might have been some glitches here and there. But overall, participants will remember it for many years to come because of its success. They are expected to be back in force next year for the second Expo.

nemani delaibatiki

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